Reforming Welfare Reform Postsecondary Education Policy: Two State Case Studies in Political Culture, Organizing, and Advocacy

By Price, Charles | Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, September 2005 | Go to article overview

Reforming Welfare Reform Postsecondary Education Policy: Two State Case Studies in Political Culture, Organizing, and Advocacy


Price, Charles, Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare


Welfare reform had the unforeseen effect of causing large numbers of public assistance recipients to drop out of college, discouraging their pursuit and acquisition of postsecondary education (PSE) credentials. There is a growing body of research that shows the value of postsecondary education in getting public assistance recipients onto a path toward occupational and social mobility. The restrictions of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families PSE policy, coupled with the recognition that college participation should be an option for qualified welfare recipients, influenced the emergence of many successful state and county-level movements focused on reforming welfare reform PSE policy. Their work provides the few contemporary examples of civil society groups shaping welfare policy through advocacy and organizing. This article summarizes some of the issues and research on welfare and PSE, and chronicles the activities of TANF PSE reform movements in Maine and Kentucky. The case study conceptual framework draws upon Daniel Elazar's (1972; 1994) conception of political culture to provide historical, institutional, political and social context. Through documentation of how reform occurred in different states, the account provided may be useful to people interested in welfare reform and PSE, especially in regard to the lingering uncertainty of what will be the final provisions that constitute the reauthorization of welfare reform.

Keywords: welfare reform, higher education, public assistance, welfare recipients, organizing, political culture

Introduction

During 1995-96, more than 650,000 welfare recipients were enrolled in postsecondary education (Department of Education, 1999). The total is likely far greater than this since many colleges and universities do not identify their public assistance-receiving students, and some students prefer not to be identified as welfare recipients. By 1999, however, the number these students had been nearly halved, declining to almost 358,000 (Department of Education, 1999). This pattern materialized across the country. For instance, the City University of New York (CUNY) saw its enrollment of public assistance recipients plummet from 27,000 in 1996-97 to less than 10,000 by 2000 (CUNY Office of Institutional Data, 2001). What caused such a precipitous decline in the participation of public assistance recipients in postsecondary education (PSE)?

Welfare reform was the reason that so many public assistance recipients were leaving college. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), also known as welfare reform, marked the end of welfare as an entitlement. PRWORA mandated a new form of block grant-structured assistance, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), that put, among other things, maximum limits on receipt of assistance and participation in PSE. Assistance was restricted to a lifetime maximum of 60 months, and participation in PSE limited to one year of vocational education. Most states interpreted TANF stringently, offering far less than the maximum limits.

The TANF proscription on higher education became another barrier to poor women's social and economic advancement. TANF's mandatory work requirements began at 20 hours in 1997 and incrementally increased to 35 hours in 2002 (the rules are slightly different for two parent families). For single parents, coordinating child care, course schedules, study time, attending mandatory meetings with social service agencies, and getting to a TANF work placement, meant that many were pushed beyond their capacity to cope with so many challenges. TANF's emphasis on labor force attachment embodied a view that any job is better than none, and that the poor need to learn discipline, workplace norms, and middle class behaviors and values, even where recipients have work experience or desire education over work (Riemer, 1997). To further dampen participation in PSE, case workers unaware of the new rules often told recipients that they could not attend college at all if they wanted to continue receiving public assistance.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Reforming Welfare Reform Postsecondary Education Policy: Two State Case Studies in Political Culture, Organizing, and Advocacy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.